Honors students conduct medical research at NIH


Mechanical engineering honors student Osama Elbuluk of Akron and John-Michael Williford, a biomedical engineering honors student from Youngstown, are conducting medical research this summer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md. Elbuluk’s research centers on therapeutic treatment of chronic bladder disease while Williford’s research focuses on cartilage/orthopedic tissue engineering.

Osama Elbuluk, left, and John-Michael Williford conducted research this summer at the National Institutes of Health.

The therapeutics on which Elbuluk is working present themselves as a novel lead for anticancer drug discovery. Such work underscores Elbuluk’s plan to attend medical school after he completes his engineering undergraduate studies. Elbuluk is co-founder of UA’s Phi Delta Epsilon international medical fraternity and this coming academic year he will work on research with Dr. Yang Yun, UA assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Yun helped to develop a breakthrough delivery system for a nanoparticle antibiotic treatment for pulmonary infections in collaboration with Dr. Wiley Youngs, UA distinguished professor of chemistry, and Dr. Carolyn Cannon, co-director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Williford’s work involves treating mesenchymal (multipotent) stem cells with two inflammatory cytokines commonly found in people with osteoarthritis. Williford’s research is critical because it can help determine the success of cartilage tissue engineering. Williford, who is vice president of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society and Residence Hall Program Board program board, and an Honors Emerging Leader. He plans to continue his education with graduate studies in biomedical engineering.

The University of Akron Honors College is among the fastest-growing collegiate honors programs in Ohio. To qualify for consideration students must have a high school cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.50; a class rank among the highest 10 percent; and an ACT composite score of at least 27 or SAT combined score of at least 1800. Once accepted, students in the Honors College enjoy a number of benefits, including special scholarships, direct admission in degree-granting colleges and use of the new Honors Complex, a combination residence hall and academic facility. In 2008 UA’s Honors College reported its eighth consecutive year of growth, enrolling 1,458 students.

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Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or henryd@uakron.edu.